Drive Smart columnist Tim Schewe.

Drivesmart column: Driving safely can also save you money

The speed you choose and the way you maintain it has a significant effect on your gas mileage

By Tim Schewe

I wrote this article 14 years ago when gas prices rose by six cents a litre between leaving for work and driving home one day. The information that I shared then appears to be even more appropriate today with both prices and climate change to consider. Drivers can choose to drive economically and that choice can also result in improved road safety.

The speed you choose and the way you maintain it has a significant effect on your gas mileage.

Driving at a steady speed as opposed to accelerating hard on the green and braking just as hard for the next red will save fuel and minimize wear and tear on your drive train and brakes.

Keeping with the flow of traffic rather than dodging from lane to lane to get ahead could save as much as 20 per cent. That adds up to a considerable saving over time.

Increasing speed from 100 km/h to 120 costs you 20 per cent more fuel. Reducing your speed from 100 km/h to 90 can save you 10 per cent. Aggressive city driving might save you four per cent on the clock, but it can cost you up to 37 per cent at the pump and produce five times the threat to your lungs through increased emissions.

Tips For Saving Fuel and Money

• Buy an efficient vehicle

• Avoid idling

• Remove unnecessary weight in your vehicle

• Check and maintain your tire pressure at least monthly

• Remove roof and bicycle racks when they are not in use

• Use air conditioning only when really needed

• Shift your manual transmission to avoid high engine RPM

• Combine your trips

• Use alternative transportation methods

Natural Resources Canada offers a free online ecoDriving course via Stantec. The course takes about 30 minutes to complete and suggests that applying the techniques shown could save as much as 25 per cent on your yearly fuel bill regardless of the type of vehicle that your drive.

Anticipation of what the traffic around you is going to do is an important key to efficient driving. It’s also a critical skill for safe driving.

Males increase the possibility of a crash by half again and females may triple the risk by driving aggressively. Instead of concentrating on getting there first, think how aggressive behaviour can turn a 199.9 cent litre into the equivalent of a 273.9 cent litre and put you and others at risk.

The bottom line? Think green, drive defensively, save money and save lives. Simple!

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement. To comment or learn more, please visit